Genesis (Part 12)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • Why do you think Abel’s offering to God was accepted but Cain’s wasn’t (Genesis 4:3-5)? What lesson does St. John Chrysostom draw from this story in relation to our own offerings to God? How does this lesson relate to something as simple as how we dress up for church… the time we take to bake holy bread or decorate the memorial wheat… or the sometimes more controversial question, why we spend so much money decorating our churches? Does God really need these things from us?
  • How does St. John Chrysostom use the events in Genesis 4:5-7 to (yet again) point us to the exceeding degree of God’s goodness, the extent of His long-suffering, and the indescribable magnitude of His loving kindness?
  • How does God reach out to Cain to try to prevent what He knows is coming (Genesis 4:6-7)? How does St. John Chrysostom’s interpretation of these events differ from someone who might say that God willed Cain to kill Abel (somebody like Calvin, for example, who says everything is pre-destined)?
  • Look at Genesis 4:7. Considering St. John Chrysostom’s interpretation of this event, whether you use the Septuagint version or the Masoretic text, God tries to calm Cain down and prevent him from sinning. How so?
  • After Cain kills Abel, God questions Cain in a similar way that He had questioned Adam and Eve after the Fall (Genesis 4:9). In the way God responds, St. John Chrysostom sees (yet again) the goodness and kindness and love of God. How so?
  • How does St. John Chrysostom interpret Genesis 4:11? Why does he think the transgression of Cain was much worse than the transgression of Adam?
  • How is the timing of Cain’s confession (Genesis 4:13-14) a good reminder to us to demonstrate our repentance and confess our sins at an appropriate time — before it’s too late?
We’re always looking for ideas to get the most out of Dr. Jeannie’s lessons. With this in mind, the following questions were provided by Marianna Sayeg from the Bible study group at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA. These questions are related to both Genesis (Part 12) and Genesis (Part 13).

Review Questions:

  1. What was the important difference between Cain and Abel’s offerings to God? Why did God accept Abel’s offering and reject Cain’s?
  2. How does God try to prevent Cain from killing Abel? How is God’s response to Cain’s sin similar to his response to Adam and Eve’s Fall?
  3. How is Cain’s reaction and punishment different than the Fall?
  4. Where did Cain’s wife come from? Why did people live to be 900 years old in Noah’s time?
  5. What is the lesson to be learned from Enoch’s story?
  6. How do we know that the “sons of God” who married the beautiful “daughters of men” were not angels?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think Cain really knew the gravity of what it would mean to kill Abel?
  2. What do you think of the notion that there were two lineages, “the ungodly line of Cain and the godly line found in Seth?”
  3. How do we know which elements of the Bible are irrelevant “little things” that we should not focus on, and which are the nuances that influence meaning?
  4. If Genesis 6 is talking about humans, why would the author call men “the sons of God” but women “the daughters of men?”

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